U.S. pix share B.O. with some local fare

“Planet of the Apes,” “Cats & Dogs” and “Rush Hour 2″ reigned in a bunch of major markets last week, while European films gave Hollywood a run for its money in Germany and Toho’s toon “Spirited Away” continued to dazzle Japan.

Launching in its first Euro market, the “Apes” remake notched Fox’s third-highest bow ever in the U.K. behind “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” and “Independence Day.” A drubbing from the critics had little effect as Tim Burton’s sci-fier drew youngsters who knew zilch about the original movies and oldsters who fondly remember them.

The Mark Wahlberg/Helena Bonham Carter starrer saw similarly muscular entries in the Philippines and Finland. Pic plunged by a worrying 48% in its soph session in Australia but held tenaciously in its fourth in Japan. The frame’s top earner, “Apes” feasted on $20.4 million from 2,875 engagements in 29 markets, hoisting cume to $78.9 million.

“Jurassic Park III” flew to $128.6 million after pocketing nearly $15 million in 24 territories. But its dino legs wobbled in soph sessions in France, Hong Kong, Belgium and Denmark.

High B.O. quotient

“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” conjured up $1.6 million in six days on 58 in Taiwan (including sneaks) for WB’s best opening of the year there. The robot tale had terrific holds in its second outings in South Korea and Mexico and has shown remarkable longevity in Japan. From just five territories, Steven Spielberg’s pic has earned $81.5 million.

Surging through its fifth round in Japan, “Spirited Away” became the first foreign hit to cross $100 million this year, joining 12 U.S. titles.

The “Rush Hour” sequel rang up $995,000 on 33 in Hong Kong, 33% better than the original’s bow, and $819,000 on 42 in Singapore. In just three weeks in the U.K., the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker headliner has nearly overtaken the first “Rush Hour’s” $12.3 million.

The Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts combo ensured lusty, but not stellar, liftoffs for “The Mexican” in Spain and Germany, although it was beaten in the latter by the fifth lap of Western spoof “Der Schuh des Manitu.”

“Mexican” cume topped $68 million, led by Japan’s $18.7 million. German biz was perked also by French import “Amelie From Montmartre,” which posted excellent averages on 156 prints. “It’s a sensational film,” remarked one exhib, who predicted a lucrative run in coming weeks as Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fantasy goes wider.

“The current box office success of European movies proves the Continent can still offer alternatives to Hollywood movies,” he added.

Warner/Roadshow’s “Cats & Dogs” fetched a tasty $2.3 million in six days on 330 in Mexico but preems in Spain and France were relatively tame. One Madrid booker offered an explanation that the producers can’t possibly have anticipated: Love for pets is “far greater in Anglo-Saxon countries than in Mediterranean lands.”

The live-action/toon pic has struggled in Germany against “Der Schuh,” “Shrek” and a surprisingly virile showing by “Evolution.” Cume from 17 countries is $38.4 million, highlighted by a socko three weeks in the U.K.

Domestic dud “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” stunned tradesters in France, pocketing more in its first week than in its entire runs in every other market including the U.K., Mexico and Australia. Computer-animated pic’s estimated cume topped $20 million from 28 territories, with most of Europe ahead.

French imbibe ‘Spirits’

Columbia TriStar’s Paris office attributed the results to an extensive ad-pub campaign that kicked off in October and the efforts of its videogame partners. Gallic exhibs praised it as an intelligent pic (a quality not discerned elsewhere), and “Final Fantasy” is drawing diverse auds.

“Pearl Harbor” climbed to $222.2 million, driven chiefly by the phenomenal $6.9 million in 13 days earned in China, where it’s already the fifth-most-popular U.S. title in history behind “Titanic,” “True Lies,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”; it’s a good bet to overtake the dino pic, which did $8.5 million.

Morgan Freeman starrer “Along Came a Spider” stalked into Oz well ahead of the bow of predecessor “Kiss the Girls,” but had tepid receptions in Korea and New Zealand. Cume is a mediocre $21.1 million, with Japan, Italy and a handful of minor markets to come.

British crime comedy “Sexy Beast” had a jolly preem on 16 screens Down Under, where “Tailor of Panama” didn’t cut it despite the presence of Oz thesp Geoffrey Rush.

Early in its foreign circuit, the Sylvester Stallone vehicle “Driven” cruised into Japan with reasonable numbers but hit the wall in Oz, as it did in France and Belgium the month before.

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